THE GEOGRAPHY OF 'THE SIMPSONS'
Using the Simpsons in Geography lessons
Last updated July 2008 - this page now ARCHIVED
'The Simpsons' has managed to sustain a tremendously high quality for hundreds of episodes (apart from that Ricky Gervais one...*) There is a fantastic Simpsons list of links at the rather wonderful "Look at This" aggregator blog which has links to ALL the major Simpsons websites of which, of course, there are lots. There are also places where you can find Simpsons clips and screenshots to use in powerpoints or as a point of reference on worksheets to accompany the videos (which are all conveniently around 15 minutes long...) Geography teachers have often found a use for particular Simpsons episodes as they have tackled most of the important themes (which of course is also something which Geography does...) they cover.
Some particular episodes include the visits to places such as Brazil, Japan, Kenya, Italy and the UK. The visit to Australia goes with a rather useful episode which mentions the coriolis effect. A useful starter for this topic. I used it with Year 12 pupils during an OFSTED visit once, and the JAPAN episode is also rather good.
For episode information, I am indebted to The DUFF GARDENS site which has an excellent set of illustrated episode guides and lots of other material. http://www.duffzone.co.uk/content.php?title=elist
"The Crepes of Wrath" (Season 1)
Bart spends time living in France
"Two Cars In Every Garage And Three Eyes On Every Fish" (Season 2)
Environmental issues tackled
"Marge Vs The Monorail" (Season 4)
Mass transit systems...
"Bart of Darkness" (Season 6)
Starts with a heatwave in Springfield - amusing shots of the effects of the heat - good intro for extreme environments (heat) or weather and climate.
"Itchy & Scratchy Land" (Season 6)
Tourism and theme parks..
"Bart vs. Australia" (Season 6)
Starts with the famous shot of the water circling down the plughole - cue a discussion on the coriolis effect and Australian themes...
"Lisa the Vegetarian" (Season 7)
Food production and farming...
"Much Apu about nothing" (Season 7)
Illegal immigration is the issue here, with some useful sections as Apu tries to gain his citizenship as an 'American Indian...'. Also good for Americans' lack of geographical knowledge e.g. Homer locating Springfield on the map.
"Hurricane Neddy" (Season 8)
Ned Flanders house destroyed by a hurricane: extreme weather.
"Trash of the Titans" (Season 9)
Environmental issues - Homer tries to bury trash. Episode is dedicated to memory of Linda McCartney
"Thirty Minutes over Tokyo" (Season 10)
Simpsons visit Japan - cue stereotypes of USA and Japan - a good introduction to the country...
"Lisa the Tree Hugger" (Season 12)
Environmental protests atop a giant redwood...
"Simpsons Safari" (Season 12)
Simpsons visit Kenya after Homer wins a prize in a box of animal crackers, and they head for Ngorongoro...
"Blame it on Lisa" (Season 13)
Simpsons visit Brazil, following disappearance of a South American orphan Lisa is sponsoring
http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,681172,00.html - the Rio de Janeiro tourist board objected to the portrayal of Brazil in this particular episode, as reported in 'The Guardian'...
"The cartoon characters found that Rio de Janeiro is a city where all men are bisexual, where fearsome monkeys roam the streets, and tourists are kidnapped by taxi drivers and mugged by children."
"The Regina Monologues" (Season 15)
The Simpsons visit the UK and meet a load of stereotypes of the UK... - good for 'My Place' and UK / Britain units.
"On a clear day I can't see my sister" (Season 16)
A trip is taken to the Springfield Glacier, what's left of it, and Lisa bemoans the effects of global warming. The episode starts with a great pan out from Homer's head and back again, and later on the action moves to Sprawl-Mart (not a parody of Wal Mart) in the same way as Blocko Land is not Legoland (although Bart slips up and calls it Lego at one point)
"Goo Goo, Gai Pan" (Season 16)
Trying to adopt an orphan in China for Selma - visit to China and exploration of culture and one child...
"The Italian Bob" (Season 17)
A visit to Italy to pick up a car for Mr. Burns - small town Italy and vendettas...
"Kiss Kiss Bang Bangalore" (Season 17)
India and call centres - outsourcing to India for Homer and good scenes where people change accents depending on where they take calls from. Homer thinks he's going to Indiana rather than India...
More to come soon... Let me know if I've missed any....
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* - only joking Ricky...